Shell, Bluware Team Up on Seismic With Video Game Tech
- Trent Jacobs (JPT Digital Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 42 - 43
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Looking for oil and gas is becoming a lot more like a video game.
This is the unique intersection where Houston-based Bluware stands. The software company is among a handful of first movers in the upstream industry that see the use of GPUs, or graphics processing units, as the way to eliminate all the wasted time spent waiting for seismic data to be visualized.
GPUs have been around for decades, but only in the past few years have they become one of the most talked-about pieces of computing hardware in the digital tech scene.
Their uptake was initially driven by the need to quickly render graphically rich video games, especially first-person shooters, and enable players sitting around the world to co-play online without lag. Others have since awoken to the potential of GPU technology, which is now accelerating the development of driverless cars and represents the computing muscle behind cryptocurrency markets.
In the modern video game setting, any significant latency in processing might mean game over. “Whereas in oil and gas, if you have to wait another half an hour to get a seismic line to load, you just go get a cup of coffee,” Bluware Chief Executive Officer Dan Piette said.
If that time is given back, those coffee breaks may be the thing put on hold as seismic processing ceases to be a major bottleneck. Bluware says on its website that it can shave several months off the typical seismic project.
Piette said this could translate into operators gaining the inside track on bidding for offshore blocks that their competitors might bypass simply because of using slower interpretation methods that rely on traditional hardware.
More Seismic, Fewer Eyeballs
And even though the industry downturn hit offshore exploration budgets as hard as any other part of the service business, Bluware sees plenty of opportunities for its cloud platform that also incorporates machine-learning tools to help automate key parts of subsurface characterization workflows.
The company estimates that global producers are sitting on at least 1.5 exabytes of seismic data sets that can be reprocessed with modern technology to find more oil and gas. To put the volume of this data into perspective, an exabyte is equal to more than 1,000 petabytes while a high-resolution offshore survey in the Gulf of Mexico might sail home with between 1–2 petabytes.
Piette argues that this inventory of data is only getting bigger in size, and that the lasting effects of the down-turn mean there are not enough technical professionals to interpret it all. “You can’t have 50 geophysicists looking at one petabyte of data and come up with the answer anymore—you need one geophysicist looking at 50 petabytes of data,” he said.
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